Poll: Obama, Romney neck-and-neck in Colorado, Nevada and Iowa

Exactly 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency. CBS News estimates Obama can count on 212 and Romney can rely on 191. CBS News political director John Dickerson reports on the battle for the 135 up for grabs.
President Obama, left, and Mitt Romney, right.

(CBS News) As President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney officially embark on their respective general election campaigns, a new set of polls from NBC News/Marist show the two men neck-and-neck in the crucial battleground states of Iowa, Nevada and Colorado.

The polls, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in each state between May 22-24 via landline and cell phone, show the president and Romney within points of each other in all three states.

In Iowa, each earned 44 percent support among registered voters, including those who are undecided but leaning toward a candidate. In Nevada, Mr. Obama garnered 48 percent support to Romney's 46 percent, and in Colorado, Mr. Obama took 46 percent support to Romney's 45 percent. Mr. Obama's slight edge in Nevada and Colorado fall within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In each of the states examined in these surveys, Mr. Obama had higher favorability ratings than Romney and appeared to benefit from the notion that the American economy is improving.

In Iowa, 48 percent of registered voters said they had a favorable impression of the president, as did 47 percent of registered voters in Colorado and 48 percent in Nevada. Romney's favorability marks in those states were 43 percent, 43 percent, and 44 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, more than 50 percent of voters in each state expressed the belief that America's worst economic days were in the past.

In Colorado and Iowa, however, Romney earned higher marks on the question of who would best handle the economy - the issue that most voters all around gave highest priority. In Iowa, Romney edged out Mr. Obama on the issue 46 percent to 41 percent, and in Colorado he led the president 45 percent to 42 percent. In Nevada, the two candidates were tied at 44 percent.

Romney may also benefit from the perception among voters that America is headed in the wrong direction. More than 50 percent of voters in Colorado, Iowa and Nevada expressed the belief that America is on the wrong track.

All three states are considered highly competitive battleground territories. While Mr. Obama carried each of the three in 2008, George W. Bush won them in 2004.

Last week, separate polls showed Mr. Obama with a slight edge in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia - three other crucial battleground states - though all six races are expected to go down to the wire.